Ready For Battle

Pinnacle Stakes at Vaal sand on Tuesday


Sand Soldier. The versatile and very capable Formation goes for her tenth career win at the Vaal on Tuesday

With the excitement building for next Saturday’s bumper Sansui Summer Cup meeting at Turffontein, we have an opportunity to boost our big race day kitty with a successful strike on the Vaal sand on Tuesday. A R115 000 Pinnacle Stakes to be contested over a mile heads the programme, with some familiar faces squaring up to do battle in a small field.

The clash of a hardknocking gelding and one of our very best female sand performers, who both stand on the brink of their respective tenth wins, brightens the opening leg of the Place Accumalator on the eight race midweek programme. The level of consistency of the better sand performers often appears to outweigh that of the turf types, and we have two excellent examples in Uncle Tommy and Formation, who are expected to fight this race out.


St John Gray’s superbly consistent Sarge mare Formation is a vivaciously versatile racer, who looks the only horse capable of stopping Weiho Marwing’s Uncle Tommy. She made it a double triumph in the R150 000 Listed Emerald Fillies Handicap run over 1450m on Emerald Cup Day this year after winning the race in 2012, and has since won again on the sand. She then registered a cracking third in the Gr3 Yellowwood Handicap, behind Classic Illusion, under the lights on the turf.

Formation is from her sire’s third crop and beyond the stakes placed six-time winning Shuffles from Sarge’s first crop, she is by far his top horse. She jumps on the paint, with Gavin Lerena in the saddle and will be rolling strongly when the whips are cracking.

Well Related

Her chief adversary, the Kahal gelding Uncle Tommy, is in the form of his life, and like Formation, showed his versatility and ability with a solid recent turf effort. Uncle Tommy ran handily and stayed on well over the Turffontein 1160m to finish a half length behind the speedy Tiger Territory. That stamps him as a fit horse, and he returns to his favourite surface. While he won easily at Flmaingo Park over a mile, he is yet to win over the same trip at the Vaal, and could set the record straight on Tuesday.


It is always worth taking note of the engagement of Piere Strydom, and the blonde SA jockey team captain rides Mike Azzie’s Magic Smoke. The daughter of Fort Wood is very capable, and technically has the edge on Uncle Tommy on a previous clash. She is as much as 4,5 kgs better off with him.


Ormond Ferraris’ Windrush gelding Straw Market has his first run on the sand, after failing to fulfil the promise of his two year old term. A powerful galloping stakes placed four time winner, he could be just about anything on this surface and will get plenty of assistance from the saddle, courtesy of “Bouncing Brown.’

King Of The Sand

Sean Tarry’s Mr Tobin is a former King of the Sand, but as an 8yo may well have had his fill of racing and does not appear to be putting his best foot forward. Tarry also saddles the Fahal four time winner Troubled Waters, who was comprehensively slammed by Brooks Club last time out.

The 7yo Boy Oh Boy is a course and distance winner, who is capable of upsetting Quartet calculations. He won his penultimate start, but then ran a flat race behind Storm Surf when showing no enthusiasm and fading late last time out.


The race should produce a fascinating tussle for supremacy. S’manga Khumalo will have to keep Formation in Uncle Tommy’s sights. If they allow her to skate away down the rail, she won’t be for the catching. It is difficult to suggest anything else winning it.

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